Foster a More Inclusive Learning Environment

From CoSN (Consortium for School Networking)…

All About Accessibility: Using Microsoft Solutions to Foster a More Inclusive Learning Environment

A Microsoft Solution Session Webinar

Thursday, January 13, 2022 
2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. ET

Microsoft logoAccessibility isn’t nice to have; it’s necessary. With more than one billion people in the world living with a disability, accessibility is essential to the progress of all people. Simply putting more devices in students’ hands is not enough; they deserve access to an equitable education – including best-in-class learning solutions and technologies. These solutions must be inclusively designed, giving students multiple ways to create, engage, and participate in constructing knowledge regardless of ability, income, language, location, or identity.

In this CoSN Solution Spotlight Webinar, Technology Leaders will learn how Microsoft’s inclusively designed education solutions support school systems in providing accessibility options that are built-in, mainstream, non-stigmatizing, and free.

Please use this link for more details and to register

Accessible Technology on Smartphones & Tablets for users that are Blind and Low Vision

From the Great Lake ADA Center, a free webinar,,,

Date:   Tuesday, December 14, 2021
Time:   2:00 – 3:30 pm ET 

Tablets and mobile devicesJoin us for the first of two sessions highlighting accessible technology on smartphones and tablets for persons with disabilities. In this session our speakers will highlight mobile apps used by persons who are blind or have low vision. The session will include apps used for way finding, social media and more. The session will also explore built-in accessibility features of iOS and Android operating platforms. There will be time following the presentation for questions. The Great Lakes ADA Center in collaboration with the ADA National Network invites you to register for the upcoming ADA Audio Conference Webinar titled, “Accessible Technology on Smartphones & Tablets for users that are Blind and Low Vision”, featuring Michael McCulloch, President, iBug, Sandhya Rao, Vice President of Training and Special Event, iBug, and Harshid Trivedi, Android Insight Facilitator, iBUG.

Please use this link for more information and to Register for this webinar

Registration deadline:  Monday, December 13, 2021

CEUs: Certificate of Attendance, ACTCP

Questions should be directed to webinars@adaconferences.org

Creating Accessible Digital Documents webinar

Date: November 23, 2021
Time: 2:00 – 3:30pm ET
Cost: Free

computer keyboardThe Great Lakes ADA Center in collaboration with the Great Plains and Southeast ADA Center invite you to join the upcoming Accessible Technology Webinar Series session titled “Creating Accessible Digital Documents” on Tuesday, November 23, 2021 from 2:00 – 3:30pm ET.

Digital documents can often create barriers for people with disabilities. Many of these barriers are easy to remove with training around how people with disabilities use technology. In this course, participants will learn how people with disabilities use technology to access documents, characteristics of accessible documents, and practical tips for ensuring accessibility.

The presenter for this program is Emily Shuman, Director, Rocky Mountain ADA Center.

Registration

Registration is required. The session will have human generated real-time captioning provided.

Use thins link to register for this event www.ada-accessibletech.org

Registration deadline:   Monday, November 22, 2021

Questions should be directed to webinars@adaconferences.org or by calling 877-232-1990 (V/TTY)

 

Learning Strategies for Children with Vision Impairment and Deafness/Hard of Hearing

Icon Symbols for deafblindnessThe New England Consortium on Deafblindness (NEC) announces the Fall 2021 on-line learning cohort is about to begin.

The online modules are an exciting opportunity to learn more about Deafblindness and engage with a consortium of service providers in CT, ME, MA, NH and VT. Upon completion of each group of modules, you will receive a certificate of completion and Professional Development Points (6 PDPs per module)

Description of the Modules

Each module is designed to increase knowledge related to intervention for students who have combined vision and hearing loss or at risk (ages 3 through 21). The module content was created by a diverse group of experts in the field of Deafblindness including state and national deafblind project staff, parents of children who are deaf-blind, higher education faculty, teachers, educational
interpreters, and interveners. Also each module takes about 6 hours to complete and includes accessible videos, photographs, slide presentations, and learning activities.

Target Audience

Paraprofessionals, Teachers, Related Service Providers, Parents, Agency Personnel

  • NEC will also host NCDB On-Line Modules to support continuing groups of service providers
    working with child(ren) who have combined vision and hearing loss or who are at-risk.
  • NEC will host NCDB On-Line Modules to support a new group of service providers working
    with child(ren) who have combined hearing loss or who are at-risk.
  • We encourage teams to participate (i.e., one classroom teacher and one paraprofessional/aide)
    but parents and individual service providers are also welcome!
  • Modules are hosted by a Facilitator and participants will be provided support and feedback in
    completion of each module. The modules can be completed at a time most convenient for you
    and at your own pace.

NOTE: Each Individual module takes 6-8 hours to complete so there is a time commitment. Many
participants report that it’s a fun and convenient opportunity to share ideas and expertise!

For More Information, visit: www.nec4db.org, email: nec@perkins.org  or call: 617-972-7515.

DCMP Helps Bring Audio Described Content to YouTube

Pictogram of Audio Description logoFrom the Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP)

DCMP is involved with a new YouTube pilot program designed to give participating content creators the ability to add audio description to their videos through a secondary audio track. We’ve been partnering with science communicator Emily Graslie to help bring Art Lab to YouTube as the very first educational series with native audio description! DCMP was a pioneer in bringing audio description to streaming media, and we’re thrilled to be working with Emily and YouTube in expanding accessibility to people with disabilities on a global scale.

You may know Emily Graslie as the host of The Field Museum’s Brain Scoop series, which is available with audio description at DCMP, or from her recent broadcast television debut on PBS in Prehistoric Road Trip. Her new series, Art Lab, celebrates art and science, how they come together, and how the skills used by artists help teach scientific concepts to a general audience. Art Lab will also be available to families and educators at dcmp.org.

Not only does Art Lab have audio description, but DCMP serves as technical advisor and accessibility provider to help make the series accessible from concept to completion.

We hope you take the time to be involved in this project yourself by viewing Art Lab with the audio description turned on! To activate the description, look for the Settings icon (a gear shape) at the bottom of the YouTube player, click “Audio Track,” and then choose “English Descriptive” to turn on audio description. Keep in mind that only a small number of content creators currently have access to this feature—but you can always find thousands of videos with audio description at DCMP!

ArtLab on YouTube

 

Bookshare’s CatchUpTogether Summer Read-a-thon

Bookshare logoThe Bookshare community is invited to join the fun and dive into a summer of reading with the goal of reading 200,000 books together.

To get you started, Bookshare has created four special collections with plenty of engaging books for all ages and interests. Browse the lists and find some books that inspire your curiosity.

Book series are organized in four categories:

  • Summer Fun for Emerging Readers
  • Summer Reads for Kids
  • Teen Reads for Summer
  • Summer Reads for Adults

For more information with suggested books, visit Bookshare’s CatchUpTogether Summer Read-a-thon webpage…

 

 

Maine Partners with T-Mobile to Provide Increased Internet Access to Maine Students

From the Maine Department of Education

HelpThe Maine Department of Education has partnered with T-Mobile to expand efforts to provide internet access and devices to Maine students through their Project 10Million initiative. If they choose to participate, the program provides mobile Wi-Fi hotspot devices directly to school districts for student use.

“We are thrilled to partner with T-Mobile to continue providing opportunities that allow Maine students to stay connected to their teachers, peers, and school communities,” said Maine Commissioner of Education Pender Makin. “The partnership helps to expand our own Connect Kids Now! initiative which supports Maine schools by providing internet connectivity through the pandemic.”

The Connect Kids Now! initiative began in the spring of 2020 at the onset of the pandemic when it became abundantly clear that technology resources were critical in closing the equity of access gap for continued learning for Maine students. In line with this these efforts, T-Mobile’s Project 10Million initiative provides the opportunity for districts in Maine to participate by signing up and choosing from three tiers of service which they can pass on to students at no cost: up to 100GB per year per device for free, or low-cost options for 100GB per month or unlimited data. Part of the commitment of the partnership will be to provide additional devices from T-Mobile over the next five years. T-Mobile will distribute these devices directly to districts and all student households with at least one student participating in the National School Lunch Program are eligible for the program. The Maine DOE will look to include districts based on economic factors such as Title 1 schools, National School Lunch Program eligibility rates, and distressed county designations. Districts can complete an online interest form to participate in the program.

“Partnering with the Maine DOE helps us identify districts and students that will benefit most from Project 10Million and get them the devices and connectivity required to fully participate in school,” said Mike Katz, executive vice president of T-Mobile for Business. “We are grateful to be a part of the solution that Commissioner Makin and her team have put in place to make sure ALL students can access the resources they need to succeed.”

 

Emergency Broadband Benefit Program Available to Eligible Families in April

From the Maine Department of Education

Neon sign with the words Hi Speed InternetThe Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently adopted a “Report and Order” that established the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, a $3.2 billion federal initiative to help lower the cost of high-speed internet for eligible households during the on-going COVID-19 pandemic.

Benefits of the program include:

  • Up to $50/month discount for broadband services;
  • Up to $75/month discount for broadband services for households on Tribal lands; and
  • A one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet purchased through a participating provider.
  • The Emergency Broadband Benefit is limited to one monthly service discount and one device discount per eligible household.

A household is eligible if one member of the household:

  • Qualifies for the Lifeline program, including those who are on Medicaid or receive SNAP benefits;
  • Receives benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision, or did so in the 2019- 2020 school year;
  • Experienced a substantial loss of income since February 29, 2020, and the household had a total income in 2020 below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers;
  • Received a Federal Pell Grant in the current award year; or
  • Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income or COVID-19 program.

The FCC expects the Emergency Broadband Benefit program to be open to eligible households before the end of April, 2021. Please check the FCC’s website regularly for the latest information. Once up and running, eligible households will be able to enroll through participating broadband providers or directly with the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC).

Many types of broadband providers can qualify to provide service in this program. The FCC is currently setting up the systems needed for providers to participate. Contact information for the providers participating in the program will be posted on USAC’s website.

For more information, the Report and Order along with the rules governing this program can be found at this link…

Medical Doctor Certification No Longer Required for Reading Disabilities

From the National Center on Accessible Educational Materials (NC-AEM)

NLS Publishes New Regulations: Medical Doctor Certification No Longer Required for Reading Disabilities

student with stack of booksWe’re pleased to inform you of important regulatory changes that should ease access to accessible formats of materials for students with reading disabilities, including dyslexia.

Background

In March of 2020, we sent a notification about changes to U.S. copyright law that have an impact on students served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and may also qualify to receive accessible formats of materials derived from the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS). At that time, the Library of Congress Technical Corrections Act of 2019 had amended terminology for persons eligible to receive accessible materials consistent with the Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act (MTIA).

Please see the following section of our website for details about that March 2020 notification: NIMAS Terms Clarified Post Marrakesh. You may also recall that in January of 2020 the U.S. Department of Education included information and language about the impact of changes made by the MTIA within procedures for receiving a FFY 2020 Part B grant award. 

Update

On February 12, 2021, the National Library Service (NLS) published the regulations that go along with the Library of Congress Technical Corrections Act of 2019. In addition to expanding the list of persons who may certify a student’s eligibility for accessible formats, the Library of Congress removed the requirement for certification by a medical doctor for those with reading disabilities. Educators, school psychologists, and certified reading specialists are now among the professionals authorized to certify students with reading disabilities.

Read the Library of Congress’s final rule: Loans of Library Materials for Blind and Other Print-Disabled Persons: A Rule by the Library of Congress on 02/12/2021.

The National AEM Center will be providing technical assistance to states and districts to support the implementation of these changes. Our team welcomes any immediate questions or concerns. Please contact us at aem@cast.org.

In these otherwise challenging times, we’re relieved to celebrate this advancement in access with you, your students, and their families.

Sincerely,

Cynthia Curry
Director of Technical Assistance, CAST
Director of the National AEM Center

 

National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS) issues new guidelines

NIMAC logoNational Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS) has issued new eligibility guidelines for their services. The guidelines have been revised to align them with changes to copyright made by the Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act (MTIA).

While the new guidelines are important for NSL users, they also have an impact on National Instructional Materials Access Standard – NIMAS eligibility criteria. The revised Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 – IDEA 2004 requires that students have an IEP and a qualifying disability in order to be eligible for materials produced from NIMAS. For the qualifying disability criterion, the legislation points to the NLS guidelines. For this reason, it is recommended that all National Instructional Materials Access Center – NIMAC users review the new guidelines.

A significant and positive change for NIMAS noted is that the pool of professionals that qualify to certify eligibility has been expanded to read:

(2) Eligibility must be certified by one of the following: doctor of medicine, doctor of osteopathy, ophthalmologist, optometrist, psychologist, registered nurse, therapist, and professional staff of hospitals, institutions, and public or welfare agencies (such as an educator, a social worker, case worker, counselor, rehabilitation teacher, certified reading specialist, school psychologist, superintendent, or librarian).

The NIMAC will soon be updating its Limitation of Use Agreements and Coordination Agreements to incorporate the updated language, and providing additional guidance related to the change.